September 14, 2021

Seville Cathedral

Dateline – Seville, Spain

Today’s leitmotif has been classic musical/film. We all had to get up at an ungodly hour in order to catch the early plane from Lisbon to Seville. I’m not sure why we didn’t just take the bus as they are only just over 200 miles apart. By the time we got through the flight process, arrived at our hotel in Seville and had lunch, the bus had arrived with our luggage on board and it was stowed away in our new rooms. The new hotel is also a five star Fancy Schmantzy called the King Alfonzo XIII and built to house the well heeled and dignitaries who came to Seville for their World’s Fair in 1929. It’s all marble and tile and Moorish influences although my favorite part are the original elevators, mirrored on all four sides giving a bit of a Willy Wonka vibe to trips up and down from the lobby. The room is comfortable. I have a room with a view (but no Cockney Signora manning the desk). And the bathroom has adequate water pressure in the shower. I am a happy man.

As I was standing in line in the Lisbon airport, waiting to board our prop plane puddle jumper, it was dark and foggy with a misty rain. I had my envelope of letters of transit from Lisbon – boarding pass, check – Covid clearance, check – entry card for Spain, check and all I could think was how Victor Lazlo can you get? Or maybe I’m Ilsa. I suppose it depends on the day. The short flight went without incident, although the rain in Spain was mainly on the plane and we were motor coached from the soggy Seville airport into the heart of the city. As we were sitting around the hotel bar waiting for our lunch, it occurred to me that I am making this trip with five married couples, a sort of Iberian bus and truck of Company. I wanted to suggest an impromptu of Side by Side by Side in the lobby, but I don’t think it would have gone over terribly well.

Lobby Alfonso XIII Hotel

After lunch, a horse drawn carriage ride through the historic center of Seville, a town of Moorish influenced architecture, winding streets, pleasant public gardens with flocks of wild parrots chattering away in the trees, and a placid river. After the carriage ride, I spent a pleasant few hours just wandering through historic neighborhoods, poking into shops, and stopping for the occasional gelato. At the end of the day, as I was having my third gelato in the cathedral square as the sun was setting, I did some people watching and had a true Here We Are Again Leona Samish moment (and kudos to any of you who pick up on that obscure reference). We have a formal tour of the cathedral and some of the other historic buildings tomorrow so more on them later.

Seville Shopping District

It’s been interesting comparing the general societal response to Covid measures here as they differ from home. Indoor masking is universal. Outdoor masking is common in crowded situations but isn’t done when just walking on the street unless you want to. People pop on their masks when approaching others or entering a building without fuss and there’s just a general sense of this is what we do for each other as we’re all in this together. The high rates of vaccination are leading to more and more relaxing of rules, but there’s no sense of a wish to race out and push boundaries, rather just one of cautious optimism but tempered with an understanding that things need to be studied and rules adjusted constantly around science and data. Meanwhile, at home, when the science is uncertain and recommendations revised as new data comes to light, people take those uncertainties as a failure of science rather than the result of the scientific method and instead of absorbing and coping with change, decide that their own preconceived notions or gut feeling must therefore be more correct. The latest thing to take off in domestic circles, oral ingestion of Betadine (iodine based antibacterial goop) as a prophylactic. Kids, do not try this at home. It’s highly toxic and we’ve got enough people in the hospital without adding more poisoning victims.

I shall have to change my shoes tomorrow. My usual walking shoes have worn soles and much of the pavement in Seville is of marble or polished cement. This, combined with rain water has made balance somewhat precarious and I really don’t wish to be rushed to Seville General with a head injury. My sneakers have decent tread so I’ll use those instead. I can see a need to take some of my own advice and having to pack a walking stick for cobblestones and other uneven ground in another decade. I’m thinking a gnarled wizard’s staff and a pointy sun hat to go with it. But now, I’m going to turn in. David Lynch’s Dune, dubbed into German for some reason, is on TV and that should be a proper distraction as I get sleepy.

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